TAITMAIL     The Fed and the parlours of power

TAITMAIL The Fed and the parlours of power

The Creative Industries Federation is in a spin, how vertiginous a spin remains to be seen.

On the other musical hand

On the other musical hand

All standard musical instruments require ten active fingers to be able to play them and up to 30,000 children in UK schools are deprived access to music-making as a result. But OHMI is opening up musical expression to them, Simon Tait reports

First woman MP’s portrait presented to Commons

First woman MP’s portrait presented to Commons

This portrait of Constance Countess Markievicz, the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons in 1918, was last night presented to the House on behalf of the Irish parliament.

V&A fulfills £100k regional pledge

V&A fulfills £100k regional pledge

The Victoria & Albert Museum is fulfilling the promise its then director made when it won the 2016 Art Fund Museum of the Year award, to revive its touring design exhibitions.

Pictures at an Exhibition

Pictures at an Exhibition

The Great Exhibition of the North is underway. But will it fulfil the hopes of its creators? Patrick Kelly has a look.

Huge fall in numbers of arts teachers

Huge fall in numbers of arts teachers

Arts teacher numbers in England are in dramatic decline, according to official figures.

Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer, is leaving after five years in the role.

Kampfner stands down from Fed

Kampfner stands down from Fed

John Kampfner has stood down as chief executive of the Creative Industries’ Federation, which he founded four years ago with Sir John Sorrell.

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Axe falls after Creative Scotland grant cut

Site making its Steel City mark

Site making its Steel City mark

Sheffield’s Site Gallery is to reopen with three times the space, and a new mission with a new artistic director, it was announced today.

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

The government’s Brexit white paper has set out a basis to ensure artists’ mobility between the UK and Europe after Brexit.

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Three years since Battersea Arts Centre’s great hall burnt down, it is pre-empting it autumn opening today with a defiant message for Donald Trump https://www.bac.org.uk.

TAITMAIL   What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

TAITMAIL What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

Who is Jeremy Wright, the headlines on Tuesday were asking.  For me, he bears an unnerving likeness to Mad Magazine’sAlfred E Neuman (a kind of 1960s Forrest Gump who only ever said “What, me worry?”), but he was the Attorney General and is now the seventh Secretary State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since 2010.

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London is to get a “Colour Palace” for its gardens next summer.

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

The Shakespeare Schools Foundation has won £33,000 in the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale 2018 awards.

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures dance company is to collaborate with environmental sustainability agency Julie’s Bicycle to creative a creative green certificate for touring.

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Councillors in Reading are backing a plan to turn the town’s famous jail into an arts centre.

New culture secretary appointed

New culture secretary appointed

Kenilworth MP and former Attorney General Jeremy Wright MP is the latest Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport .

DEA BIRKETT Resetting ‘the norm’

Dea Birkett wants to be surprised as she celebrates the Edinburgh Fringe

It’s my 20th Edinburgh Fringe, but I’m not the only one celebrating. The Fringe is 70, and although it has “defying the norm” as this significant anniversary year’s slogan , the Fringe has become the norm. What happens in a venue here is more likely to be in the middle of its artistic journey rather than at the very be- ginning. I have already been to several shows that boast they have been running for over 20 years. Shakespeare for Breakfast is in its 26th Edinburgh run, as anarchic as ever and still the best way to start a Fringe day. This year the play that’s being butchered is Macbeth, and the killer-hard croissants aren’t only handed out to the audience on arrival (along with tar tea) but also feature in the wonderful reworking of the play’s weaponry.

Being a bit bonkers is a theme of this year’s festival, with clowns of all sorts and traditions enjoying a welcome comeback. Dutch band Werenband Slapstick don’t do world music (which is what their name means in Dutch) nor slapstick. They play on and play with 99 musical instruments, dance in boaters, mime and sing Scaramouche in German for no reason at all, in the tradition of musical clowns. They are wonderfully difficult to put into a single art form category – I’ve no idea where to find them in the 70th Fringe programme. What they do is, to UK audiences at least, new. But they’ve been musically mucking around together for 20 years in Holland. So why hasn’t such a wonderful mash up of the traditional never been seen here before? Perhaps because the fact it’s a fabulous mess counts against it. In programming, categories are crucial.

Comic clown Spencer Jones faces similar artistic hurdles, impossible to put in any one box. He’s not a standup – he’s far too physical for that. He’s not a clown – he relies on spoken language too much. He’s not physical theatre – he’s too silly. But he’s definitely brilliant, using nothing but a case of oranges and a vibrating plat- form for props. In his white tights and doctor’s white coat, he reminds us of a Shakespearean fool, as do his wise words mixed with mad gesturing. You’re unlikely to find a finer performance in a basement bar, fittingly called the Monkey Barrel.

Dr Carnesky’s Incredible Bleeding Women also refuses to be t into neatly anyone’s funding stream. Like a Ted- X talk with tampons (or without one, when you need one), show woman Marisa Carnesky and her ferocious female tribe create a manifesto for menstruation which includes academic lecture, lm, performance art and even hair hanging.

Thank goodness there are creations like this, which allow me to see all that in an hour. After a few days in Edinburgh, I’m already rather bored by shows that are easy to categorise. The significant dramas with a single middle-aged male actor shaking with indignant rage in a way he was taught to in drama school 25 years ago; the contemporary circus show which stretches to find meaning in a slow silk act or three people standing on each other’s shoulders, accompanied by a poignant play- list; the oh-so-audacious late night cabaret where a man dressed in pink saying “I’m gay” out loud is supposed to be shocking. This is the 70th anniversary, after all, and things should have moved on.

Then along comes Hot Brown Honey, from the same Australian production team that brought us Briefs. It’s unfair to categorise this show, but let’s call it lesbian Aboriginal cabaret, which probably puts it in a category of its own. Women of all shapes and sizes rattle and roar, shaking their ample bodies and shaking up the audience. More dildos than didgeridoos, it confounds what we expect from an indigenous Australian performance.

What I want at the Fringe is to be surprised. Let’s hear it for those who can’t fit into a category.

Dea Birkett is Ringmaster at Circus250 www.deabirkett.com www.circus250.org

 

 

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